By Artsvi Bakhchinyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
YEREVAN/RIO DE JANEIRO — Armenia Nercessian de Oliveira was born in Brazil, to an Armenian father and a Brazilian mother. She is married to film director Xavier de Oliveira and employed as assistant professor of sociology in Brazil. She worked for the United Nations for 16 years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in Missions in El Salvador and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She is currently a social entrepreneur, co-founder and president of Novica company.
Dear Armenia, during past 20 years you have traveled widely as the president of the Novica Company. What is your company’s mission and how successful you are?
Novica was founded in 1999 to be an Internet platform to give access to the international market to artists and artisans around the world, providing opportunities to grow, to receive more for their work. Products are featured with bios and photo of the artisans, shipped gift wrapped with a handwritten and signed postcard. The goals are to connect people and create an appreciation for other cultures.
Novica started in Los Angeles at the basement of my daughter and son-in-law, Roberto Milk, who is our chief executive officer. It is a project created with family and friends. Within five months we had offices in four countries. Within two years, we raised $20 million, made a partnership with National Geographic, received a World Bank investment and expanded the company to 11 countries. Last year, we celebrated having sent $95 million to the artisans.